Burpee-Mills Township granted appeal hearing

EVANSVILLE—Burpee-Mills Township has been provided the opportunity of an appeal hearing in the case of property that was given tax exempt status after a local landowner had donated land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

“A local property owner had given property to the NCC and they (NCC) in turn applied for the lands to be tax exempt,” Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee-Mills, told the Recorder on Tuesday. “The province then provided notice to us in April-May, 2013 that we would have an opportunity to appeal the tax exempt status on the property. We did appeal this, but the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) indicated that we had missed the deadline for an appeal to be made.”

Mr. Noland explained the township subsequently enlisted the services of a lawyer in the case, “who basically contacted the MNR and asked what was going on, that the township had been provided a date to file an appeal and had met the date specified. So after all of this now we have been granted an appeal hearing.”

“The same thing happened to us a few years ago, when property was given to the NCC and was designated tax exempt,” said Mr. Noland. “We sent in our appeal in the time frame, and did the same, and they (MNR) said we had missed the deadline for filing an appeal. So when it happened again in this most recent case we decided to get a lawyer.”

Bonnie Bailey, township clerk, told the Recorder in this most recent case, “a large piece of land had been owned by one person (and had donated the lands to the NCC). The MNR later provided us notice of the land being tax exempt.”

The property in question in Burpee/Mills is on the south shore and includes concession 1 lots 21, 22, 25, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 and concession 2, lots 23 and 24.

“The province allows groups like NCC to have property it receives tax exempt status, but municipality’s lose tax revenues on these properties,” said Mr. Noland. “And small rural municipalities can’t afford to lose any of their tax base. It was the province that also mandated the forest and farmland bill at 25 percent, with no compensation being provided. So any municipality where these lands are included has to raise taxes to compensate for what is lost in taxes. Farmers have to pay higher taxes to get the 25 percent and rural municipalities are subsidizing that rate. Plus we are all dealing with ongoing land claims where lands purchased by First Nations that are located within municipalities all become tax exempt.”

No date for the hearing to be held between the township and the provincial assessment review board has been set at this time, said Ms. Bailey.

Tom Sasvari